Do you know anyone thinking about social enterprise within the ethical, theological and spiritual context of the Christian church? Are you a businessperson who makes money but also cares about the social aspects of your family and others in your community? Have you had conversations with your diaconate, or someone in your church, about community needs, congregational assets, and entrepreneurial ideas from the perspective of church ministries?
These are questions in the social enterprise field that have the potential to intersect the business world and your faith. Could your church be a place in the community that provides a good or services while meeting a social need? Would it be a viable and morally acceptable option for a church to be a place that offers addictions counseling, sells a fair trade product, operates a food truck or is a part time safe injection site?
Maybe there can be a shift in focus from the prosperity gospels of decades past, to a social enterprise gospel that was prophesied about in the book of Jeremiah 29. This could be a foreshadowing word that points to the redemptive work of Christ that causes all relationships to flourish, even relationships between us and how we see our money or economy. Jeremiah 29:7 says, “Also seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Verse 11 goes on to say, “For I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you…”
Now this has certainly been where the prosperity gospel had taken its foundation from, but other translations use the word welfare instead of prosperity. In social enterprise, businesses want to see that it is not just one person in the business equation prospering with wealth and well being, but creating an equitable balance, social meaning and a sustainable future for all people and their communities (the welfare of all).
Social enterprise has the potential to resonate with the youth and young adults in our churches as well. Could deacons partner in that, disciple and mentor them in that? I am sure they would teach us an enormous amount in the process.
“It is common to assign an entrepreneurial spirit to young people, who readily align themselves with the values associated with entrepreneurship, particularly social entrepreneurship—that “triple bottom line” way of doing business that insists on doing good and doing well at the same time.” But unfortunately, many young people seeking this kind of life are going, not to the church, but to TOMS Shoes to find it. (Kenda Creasy Dean)
Do deacons have a role in youth and young adult ministry? Are community opportunity scans more than just finding out the demographics of your neighborhood? Maybe looking into what God is doing already in your neighborhood will lead you to a gap in social needs, or an opportunity to provide something your community could thrive with. Maybe deacons dreaming about and starting social enterprise is an old way of doing church ministry; before governments and institutions took over things like schools, hospitals and food production. In seeking God with all our heart, and loving our literal neighbors, it could be done again in a fresh new way. At the very least, we should be learning about companies already doing this kind of work around us and supporting them in it. God gives us hope and a future; we turn back to him with all of our life, praying to and being heard by Him.
Matthew 5:6 – “Blessed are those who hunger for thirst and righteousness, for they will be filled.”